Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Meme-Time!

It's Banned Books Week!!!

A couple of weeks ago, The Hate Mongering Tart asked readers to send her photos of themselves reading their favorite banned book. Her posts were really fun and informative, which led me to think, HEY! More people should do this!

So, a little meme:

1. Go find your favorite banned book.
2. Take a picture of yourself with said book.
3. Give that book some love by explaining why you think it is an important book.
4. Post it to your blog.
5. Spread the word!

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My favorite banned book is The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier.

The first time I read this book, I was in high school.

It changed my life.

This was the first book I read that I felt got it right. Understood. Saw. Knew why people did bad things. This book made me look at the "bad" people around me and see beyond what I was afraid of and look for the story that made them who they were. Human.

And then I began to look for that second story in everyone.

I began to stop making snap judgments about people. I began to wonder, "What's your story?" Why do you behave the way you do?

Instead of saying, "She's just a bully."  I started to say, "I wonder what happened to her."

I didn't know it then, but this book made me a writer.

It also made me more compassionate.

And while critics insist the book has none, it gave me hope.

I didn't care about or notice the swears, Mr. Scroggins.

I didn't care about the masturbation scene, Mr. Freeman.

What I cared about was how all those characters became who they became. I cared about how one character's actions could profoundly affect another. And even though in this book those actions were mostly for the worse, it somehow showed me that the opposite could be true as well. Jerry dared to disturb the universe. And I wanted to, too.

I didn't become a trash-mouth masturbating scoundrel after reading the book. (I know, I know, *laugh laugh laugh* that is a funny sentence).


I became a more caring, compassionate person.

Books don't harm, people do.

So please. Go share a book and help make the world a better place.



Monday Morning Warm-up:

Your turn!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is the Opposite of Clean? Part II

You've probably heard that Laurie Halse Anderson's groundbreaking, life-saving book SPEAK is under attack again by a man who claims the content is pornographic because apparently all sex, even if its rape, is.

And you've probably read lots of blog entries defending Laurie's book and all books that deal with rape and other realities Mr. Wesley Scroggins would like us to pretend don't exist.

These entries have all been incredibly moving. But the one that is pressing most against my heart is Sandra Mitchel's post in which she heartbreakenly explains:

"And as I walked home, I cried- not because this man had just raped me. I cried because I was embarrassed, because I knew better than to talk to strangers, because it was my fault he did this dirty thing to me. I wasn’t going to tell my mother."

Can you imagine how a seven-year old girl came to the conclusion that what happened to her was dirty?

Ask Mr. Wesley Scroggins.

Ask the book banners.

Instead of thinking what happened to her was an act of horrific violence, her thought was that it was dirty. And she wasn't going to tell her parents it happened.

Three years ago, I wrote a post here called, What is the Opposite of Clean?" There was a great discussion in the comments.

I wonder if it's time to have it again.

I know the people who make "CLEAN BOOKS" lists are well intentioned. This is not an attack or accusation. It's a plea for all of us to think about the potential power of our words.

Couldn't we think of a better, more accurate term to describe books that don't contain sex or swears? Because I am very worried that the message, whether intended or not, is that any book that does not fall in this category contains something dirty. So it must be bad. It must be wrong.

And I wonder how that makes the 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 who have been sexually assaulted* and see these classifications in her school or public library feel about the secret she's keeping right now.

The opposite of clean is dirty.

When we hold books up because they are "clean" we're implying that there must be something wrong with or bad about the other books. And what does that tell these girls? There must be something wrong with or bad about you.

Words are powerful. Mr. Scroggins shows us that. Laurie Halse Anderson shows us that. And Sandra Mitchell shows us that.

Why can't we just call these books "sex-free" or "swear-free"?

Why can't we just be honest?

Thanks for listening.


Monday Morning Warm-Up: Speak

*Statistics gathered from

Monday, September 13, 2010

Channeling my inner Rocky and cheering for brave librarians

Do you ever feel, sitting in the quiet, facing a mountain of work, the need for some theme music to get you pumped up?

That is me this morning. I need the Rocky song.

Some of you know I have been feeling kind of odd and uncomfortable about having my book, Lessons From A Dead Girl on the official American Library Association's "banned books list".

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Well, recently, I have been feeling better about it. Because suddenly I am getting all of these Google alerts for the book. And they are not of the "this book is evil/perverted/sick/harmful/inappropriate" ilk.


They are of the "Hey, this book is on the 'Read a Banned Book Challenge' and you should put it on your list so we can talk about it!" variety.


And why this change? Because Banned Books Week is coming up and because there are these amazing librarians out there putting lists together to give these books some love and positive exposure by encouraging readers to put them on their to-read lists.

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THANK YOU librarians, for taking on the book banners with humor, thoughtfulness and intelligence. Thank you for caring and understanding that talking about books that challenge our way of thinking about the world, about society, about secrets that shouldn't be makes us stronger, not weaker or more vulnerable. Thank you.

And thank you to all the bloggers who have joined the Lit Bites challenge to read and discuss these books!

While I'm not a fan of making books fight each other, I love that it can open discussion about both books. If you'd like to give Lessons From A Dead Girl some love (or the other book!), you can go to the Lit Bites "Book War" page where Living Dead Girl and Lessons are doing the Rocky thing. Go here and vote/comment. :-) Thanks!


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write a cheer to get yourself motivated and post it in the comments so it can get me motivated too. :-)

Friday, September 3, 2010

can't read my, can't read my...can't read my poker face

The other day my son called to me from his bedroom saying I needed to run upstairs quickly and bring the camera.

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know this could turn out... um... interesting.

Here's what I discovered:

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I'm not sure if it's my son who sometimes forgets that Fred is not human, or Fred himself. Either way, apparently they invented some new form of poker and had quite a good time.

In other news...

About 50 people have signed up for so far. Looks like we're going to have a great group! I'll post the list I have over there so if you don't see your name and want to join, please just leave me a comment and I'll add you. Thanks!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010



For me, that means...

Reaching the big 4-0, celebrating my wedding anniversary, meeting my next class, and...


If I have at least 10 people interested in doing this again, I'll be happy to host! Tentative start date is September 16 and we'll finish on December 1.

I think I screwed up last year and THIS is our fifth year. But I have no idea. Anyone?? If you'd like to join, I'll start making a list. I'll post here and there from time to time before our start date and continue to add to the list. Then, on September 16, we'll get started!

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you can learn more at HERE. Click on the "user info" button.

Hope we get a nice group! I am REALLY ready to get to work. How about you?